Last summer we embarked on a trip to Greece. After spending weeks searching for the best destination for a little summer sun we decided on Santorini. A place hot on everyone’s radar at the moment, but one which will leave you breathless.
With flights direct from Manchester it seemed like the perfect choice. However I knew it couldn’t be a trip to Greece without exploring a nearby island. So again, after lots of research I decided on Naxos – an island we had never heard of and one which is still slightly under the radar. A full breakdown of what we did, where we stayed and how we got there will be coming soon. But for now, let’s bask in the misty-blue and crisp white island of Santorini – a place like no other.
White walls and a blue sea
Oia was a very special place and somewhere which will stay in my heart and mind for a long time. We stayed at the amazing Nostos Apartments in a cave apartment overlooking the sea. To the right we had a view of the caldera. It was simply breathtaking to open the doors to see the blue sky meet the vast sea. Our cave apartment was cosy and very Grecian with white walls and aqua blue decorations. Just a few steps away from our apartment we enjoyed the swimming pool which was very much enjoyed after an afternoon exploring in the sweltering heat!
The staff at Nostos Apartments were so helpful and friendly. Being in such a glamorous location, I was a little worried we wouldn’t particularly fit in – but Ramona and Stefanos made us feel so welcome. The apartments are based towards the bottom of the caldera and to reach them you need to climb 80+ steps. When we arrived Stefanos carried our two 23kg suitcases on his head down to the apartments – neither of us could quite believe it! If I could describe the place in one word it would be an oasis and it was exactly the type of place I had been dreaming of. If you’re looking to stay in Oia, I couldn’t recommend Nostos highly enough.
Our secret Oia
The town in Oia was very different depending on the time of day. During the early-mid afternoon it was full of tourists. I was aware of this before we arrived but I think the reality actually hit once we were walking around. I didn’t find it too much of a problem, but at times it did feel a little suffocating. Our favourite time to explore Oia was very early in the morning or towards the early evening.
On one of our last mornings we woke up at 5am to head out and film. It was actually magical as the streets we knew as being full of people were empty. I think for a good hour we only saw the cleaners and a few other photographers walking around. It was like we were the only people and it almost felt as if we were in on some sort of secret. Of course we took full advantage of this and explored our favourite paths whilst taking lots of pictures. Despite waking up super early it was worth it and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
I think one of the things I enjoy the most about travelling is getting lost. Venturing down paths and finding your own secret haunts is what makes travelling so exciting and personal. In Oia it was very rare to find a path which wasn’t full of people. During one day we were on a mission to find a particular building and once we found it instead of turning right to follow the crowd of people, we decided to turn left. I’m so glad we did because we stumbled upon an impressive place to sit and just be amazed at the view. For the time in which we were sat there only a handful of people walked by. Again it was like our own secret oasis. Whenever we wanted to escape the crowds we headed to that spot to cool down and chill out.
Sunsets, cider and gelato
Of course you can’t go to Santorini without viewing the incredible sunset. I read the best place to watch the sunset was on top of the castle however be warned as it gets extremely busy.
One evening we headed to the castle about an hour or two before the sunset was due, with two bottles of ice-cold cider. Once we got there we saw how it was starting to get a bit busy – however we managed to find two perfect seats on the castle walls overlooking the caldera.
I think we got lucky with our spot as it was such a great place to sit, watch the world go by and witness the beautiful sunset. Over the course of the evening the castle got very busy and people began to push and shove their selfie sticks into each other – which did take away a bit of the romanticism. But nevertheless, it was a fantastic experience – I mean just look how the island lit up!
One thing which I was quite surprised about was the food in Oia. Neither Bogdan or I were incredibly impressed by the food. We didn’t want to eat in the high-end restaurants which may have been a mistake on our half, but we failed to find a good value place serving delicious food. In some of the restaurants we went to we were actually put off by the service – one place in particular was so focused on getting people in and out as fast as possible. The only place we would go back to was Lolita’s Gelato. Lolita served the best gelato we ever had and the service was so friendly and fun – if only we could have it for breakfast, lunch and dinner! We visited on multiple occasions and even at this moment, I can still remember the taste of the gelato. If you’re in the area I would highly recommend it.
I would love to go back to Oia for a long weekend out of high season. I think visiting in June or September would be the perfect time to relax and refresh. Unfortunately during our stay in Oia we didn’t manage to go to Amoudi Bay which was somewhere I wanted to visit, but I guess it’s one extra excuse to visit again. Hopefully next time, I’ll remember to wear sensible shoes when trekking down to the bay!